Loser Liz Cheney: We knew ye, and that was the problem
Like the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, yesterday the Republican voters of Wyoming deposed the Cheney family from political power.
Incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney, sitting in the seat her father held for the whole of the 1980s, was denied renomination for a fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. She was defeated by Harriet Hageman, a former friend and supporter turned enemy and opponent, by a titanic two-to-one margin.
While this loss comes as no surprise to sober observers — Cheney had been trailing by double digits in polls for weeks — it does pour cold water on the media’s attempted rehabilitation of the Cheney legacy. It was less than two years ago when Politico, days before the 2020 election, published a fawning profile of Cheney and uplifted her aspirations as the future Speaker of the House in a post-Donald Trump GOP.
“Why aren’t there more Republicans like Liz Cheney,” complains Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, who says Cheney “effectively combines a grasp of the facts, understanding of the law and firm moral conviction.” NPR’s Tamara Keith says Cheney made “a calculation that standing up for the Constitution was more important to her than her congressional seat…”
“Whatever you think of her father, her past or the rest of her ideology, she has, for the past year and a half, been an unstinting, unflagging and—frankly—inspiring model of principle above partisanship, of truth over tribalism,” writes New York Times columnist Frank Bruni.
These are all in response to Liz Cheney’s high-profile position on the House select committee investigating the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill where she has repeatedly and forcefully denounced former President Donald Trump and his denial of the 2020 election results.
But as much as some liberal commentators would like Americans to conveniently forget the past 20 years, they shouldn’t. For two decades this woman has demonstrated an unshakeable commitment to imperialism, manufacturing and spreading war propaganda, and taking pride in torturing terror suspects.
“The philosophy of these people is about war and substantiating war and making sure that it becomes and is perpetual war” is how Senator Rand Paul characterized Liz Cheney and her allies in 2020. At the time, Rep. Cheney was the lead sponsor on an amendment that would prohibit congressional expenditure on Donald Trump’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Cheney never attempted to hide her approval of America’s longest war. In fall 2019 she was asked by a Wyoming constituent and veteran when and under what conditions she would support leaving Afghanistan. “Never,” she replied coldly.
Nor has Cheney ever shied away from expressing pride in the U.S. torture program under the George W. Bush administration. During her 2010 debut at CPAC, she called the CIA interrogators who waterboarded, beat, contorted, froze, and raped prisoners “patriots” who deserve “thanks and our praise,” not a congressional investigation.
“I guess it’s not so surprising that a Cheney loves torture, but I don’t recall Liz Cheney being quite so explicit about her enthusiasm for torturing people,” journalist Spencer Ackerman wrote at the time.
In 2018, when the late Senator John McCain — a fellow hawk who had been tortured for five years in a Vietnamese prisoner of war camp — called the U.S. torture program disgraceful, Cheney replied, “No one should slander the brave men and women who carried out this crucial program.” The next day, when Rand Paul agreed with McCain (his erstwhile nemesis), Cheney responded, “Rand Paul is defending and sympathzing with terrorists.”
This has been Liz Cheney’s counterattack on torture opponents for years. In 2009 she co-founded the non-profit Keep America Safe with neoconservative poster child Bill Kristol. The organization denounced lawyers in the Obama Justice Department who had previously worked as defense attorneys for terror suspects, labeling them “the Al Qaeda Seven” and asking “Whose values do they share?” The pushback was so strong (including from other conservatives) that Keep America Safe was shutdown and its internet presence scrubbed.
The climax of her failed reelection strategy came two weeks ago when her campaign released a video from her father Dick Cheney condemning Donald Trump’s post-election behavior and describing him as the greatest individual threat to the republic in American history. “He is a coward. A real man wouldn’t lie to his supporters,” said the 81-year-old former vice president.
The irony is palpable. Numerous articles, books, memoirs, and formal investigations have been published definitively proving that as Vice President Dick Cheney used his office to coordinate the fabrication and manipulation of intelligence related to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and market the disinformation to the public to justify a pre-planned military invasion.
During this time, and for the remainder of the Bush administration, Liz Cheney worked closely at her father’s side, both as an informal advisor and as a pair of his eyes and ears in the U.S. State Department. “[R]ather than distance herself from her father’s controversial actions, she embraces them, even revels in them,” Joe Hagan observed in a 2010 profile of Liz for New York magazine.
As recently as 2014, Liz Cheney was co-writing an article with her father in the defunct Weekly Standard promoting the long discredited conspiracy that Saddam Hussein’s government had a positive, working relationship with Al Qaeda. She’s unrepentant in endorsing the worst lies of the Global War on Terror.
“Progressives saying yesterday to me, ‘I love Dick Cheney now?’ It’s frying people’s synapses, they don’t know how to process what they’re seeing right now,” said MSNBC’s Willie Geist while reporting on the video endorsement.
It’s a far cry from when Salon described Liz Cheney during her first campaign as an “aspiring warlord.” And after six years in Washington D.C. she’s certainly amassed the fortune of one. Since 2017 her net wealth has increased as much as 600 percent, up to $44 million.
Residents of Virginia, rich with Pentagon contracts, contributed four times as much money to her campaign as Wyoming locals, who represented only her seventh biggest donor base. But that sort of homestate support should be expected; Cheney graduated highschool in McLean, Virginia, lived there regularly until 2013, and maintained a residence there while “representing” the mountain west.
Cheney’s vanquisher, Harriet Hageman, has been circumspect on foreign policy for the duration of the primary campaign. Before tying herself at the hip to Donald Trump this cycle, in 2016 Hageman worked in tandem with the Ted Cruz campaign on the floor of the Republican National Convention to deny Trump (whom she called “racist and xenophobic”) the Republican nomination; simultaneously she endorsed Liz Cheney in her first House race. And unlike Senator Cynthia Lummis, who openly endorsed her primary challenge, Hageman has not signed the Congressional War Powers Pledge.
Whatever other signifiers the media attempts to attach to this election, Liz Cheney’s landslide defeat eliminates the most rockribbed neoconservative from Congress. This is one regime change that is a self-evident victory for the causes of non-interventionism and international human rights.